Iliyana's Blog

5 Learnings and 5 Takeaways from My Top 2016 Blog Posts

[fa icon="calendar"] 27-Dec-2016 08:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva

Top 2016 Blog Posts on Iliyana's Blog.jpgWith 2017 around the corner, I decided to spend some time analysing the performance of my blog for the past year and to draw some learnings from the findings.

I love HubSpot for this because it pulls out the data and it allows you to dig into it pretty well.  

Today, I want to show you what I found content and traffic-wise but also share my own takeaways and action items based on the analysis as you might find them useful for the New Year to try out too. 

Let's start with the most popular posts that I published in 2016 based on traffic: 

Top 5 Blog Posts by Traffic Published in 2016: 

  1. The 4 Key Emotional Intelligence Capabilities [Infographic]
  2. The Six Leadership Styles And How To Master Them [Infographic]
  3. 31 Influencer Marketing Statistics You Need to Know Now
  4. The Easiest, But Most Effective Guide to Keywords Research & Strategy
  5. Why Inbound PR is the Future of PR? My #INBOUND16 Talk

Learning #1: Not my core topics bring the top traffic. It's because of infographics.

One thing to mention here before we dig into this more: the majority of my traffic does come from posts on my core topics - inbound PR and inbound marketing - but the top blog posts by traffic are those that do not focus on the main themes of the blog but on something I'm generally just passionate about - leadership and personal development - and something I don't focus on keywords-wise and is probably something I cannot own organic.  I call these side topics. In addition, these two top pieces contain an infographic which is what has brought the majority of the traffic to the them as you will see later from the traffic sources analysis. 

Takeaway #1: Write more about my side topics since they gather so much interest but also create infographics for my main topics to drive more traffic to them. 

Learning #2: Speaking at events gets a lot of people to the blog not only during but especially after the event.

The fifth blog post in the list is the one that I wrote right after I spoke at INBOUND - the biggest inbound conference in the world - to share my talk and slides. The post was published on November 15th so very much towards the end of the year and it still made the top 5 list by traffic. A lot of people attended my talk so I guess many of them came back to look for the resources. I suspected this which is why I not only published the slides but the entire transcript. It's a huge 25,000-words piece but people have thanked me massively for it and have shared it extensively. 

Takeaway #2: Speak at more events and write about it extensively, share it all - the slides, the transcript, any videos, absolutely everything. This way it's extremely valuable to the people who listened to you speak as they'll come back to your blog hoping to see something like this, but it's also pretty useful for those who weren't there. 

After taking a look at the posts that were published in 2016, I also wanted to analyse the top blog posts for the year regardless of when they were published.

This was pretty interesting too. 

Top 5 Blog Posts by Traffic for 2016, Published Whenever: 

  1. How to be an Effective Leader [Infographic]
  2. 10 Public Relations Dissertation Topics
  3. The 4 Key Emotional Intelligence Capabilities [Infographic]
  4. How to Win and Influence People [Infographic]
  5. The Six Leadership Styles And How To Master Them [Infographic]

Before I get into the learnings I've also added a screenshot here so that you can see the numbers: top 5 blog posts by views over 2016.png


Learning #3: Infographics are killing it.

Again, the most popular posts seem to be the ones that include an infographic - four of them here, two published this year, another one in 2015 and one in 2014. And these posts again are not my core topics. As for the remaining post, I fully own the topic "public relations dissertation" because I purposefully targeted this with a lot of content back at the beginning of 2015.   

Takeaway #3: Really get those infographics going for the one very key topic that I want to own and grow in 2017 - Inbound PR.

Now, traffic is great but what about leads? I wanted to take a look at the click-through rates of my posts that include a Call-to-Action to a landing page to see what has brought the most people to those designated pages with content offers.  

Top 5 Blog Posts by Click-Through Rate for 2016, Published Whenever: 

  1. 10 Public Relations Dissertation Topics
  2. Why do I want to work in PR
  3. What my PR Internship Taught me: 10 Pieces of Advice for Future Interns (and not only)
  4. PR Dissertation: How to get Started
  5. Don't Believe in Inbound PR? This Post Will Change Your Mind

Here's also the screenshots so that you can take a look at the numbers:top 5 blog posts by click through over 2016.png


Learning #4: Content offer and blog post content alignment is key.

I only have three content offers - a test, a checklist and an ebook. Specifically for them, I've written blog posts and added in those the CTAs to the offers. It works. Pretty well, in fact, considering that the posts are quite old - from 2012 or 2013 - but I've integrated in them a CTA in the beginning of 2015 when I created the offers. The click-through rates are not bad at all with 2-4% or even 23% for one of them. Not surprisingly these still work even though I created them almost two years ago when I wanted to own PR dissertation and PR career advice for students. Now, though, Inbound PR is my thing and I've only created one ebook that seems to be working very well as well based on the 5.6% click-through rate within the top list.   

Takeaway #4: Create new content offers for Inbound PR to ensure I include CTAs in my most important blog pieces. 


In addition to traffic and clicks, I think it's also interesting to take a look at the traffic sources for the year, so really which channels brought you to my blog. There are three key winners.

Top Traffic Sources for 2016:

  1. Organic Search
  2. Social Media
  3. Direct Traffic

all sources 2016.png

As you can see, social is the second biggest source of traffic after organic so I decided to dig into each social channel. 

The result was pretty interesting. 

Top Social Traffic Sources for 2016: 

  1. Pinterest
  2. Twitter
  3. LinkedIn

social traffic 2016.png

It looks like Pinterest is doing wonders for me. Twitter is also very much at the front by a huge difference to all the rest. Bear in mind that I don't do any paid activities. If that were the case, perhaps Facebook would've been different. 

Learning #5: Social media is super powerful, especially Pinterest when combined with infographics.

When we look at the social traffic sources and generally the highest traffic blog posts, it's no surprise then that social and especially Pinterest are performing so well. The reason is the content on the blog posts, namely infographics that are so easy to share and spread on social.  They bring valuable content because they sum up learnings in a more enticing way to consume than text and so people find it more practical to show to others as well. Twitter is doing well too because I put a lot of focus on it, following the 80-20 rule with 80% curated content and 20% of my own being posted there. But, and this is the biggest but here, I not only share a new blog post once on Twitter, rather I schedule it to go out multiple times over the next months to a year or even longer with evergreen posts. This is key!

Takeaway #5: Keep my heavy, ongoing social media activity and especially hashtags on Pinterest and Twitter. 


Doing this analysis has been extremely useful because these 5 key learnings and 5 takeaways are now giving me a pretty good idea of what I need to focus on in 2017.


Which one is the most surprising learning for you? 


Topics: Blogging

Iliyana Stareva

Written by Iliyana Stareva

Iliyana Stareva is the author of Inbound PR - the book that is transforming the PR industry. She's also a keynote speaker and a consultant in inbound and digital for fast-growing companies and agencies. Currently, Iliyana is PMO Lead at the Chief of Staff office for CX EMEAR at Cisco where she is the operational leader for all things Customer Success and Growth. In her previous roles at HubSpot, she led major cross-functional change for the global Partner Program with her detail-oriented approach to project management and advised hundreds of agencies on how to transform their businesses with inbound and digital. During that time, she earned the globally recognised Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification by the PMI. In her free time, you can find Iliyana writing for her blog, dancing salsa or travelling the world.

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